Philadelphia police officers take a knee with protesters at City Hall
“Give me a hug,” the police officer said again. “Nobody will do that, and that’s the problem.”
As a nonviolent demonstration made its way around City Hall on Monday afternoon, one of the protesters, Andre DuCally, stopped to see if he could find common ground with three police officers who were watching over the scene.
DuCally, who is African American, said he didn’t support those who were damaging property and looting.
“I don’t get why black communities are f—ing up other black communities,” the 22-year-old Philadelphia resident said. But, he said, he doesn’t understand why it is so hard to reform policing so that deaths like George Floyd’s don’t happen.
A white officer whose last name is Brady said he supported DuCally’s right to raise those concerns.
“We’re here to protect your right to assembly and free speech. You should enjoy it,” said Brady, who, like the other officers, declined to give a first name.
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“I don’t know. I feel like there’s just a lot more that needs to happen,” DuCally said.
Another officer, Pouncey, said there are productive ways to effect change and ways that work against the cause.
“We’ve got to … take the steps to get to the solution,” said Pouncey, who is black. “Because we all want the same thing.”
“Peaceful protesting is one thing. Looting, rioting, and destroying property is another,” Brady said. “How bad was the economy during the coronavirus? And now, the small businesses are destroyed and there’s no way to recover.”
DuCally started to respond when Brady cut in: “Give me a hug.”
“Huh?” DuCally said.
“Give me a hug,” Brady said again. “Nobody will do that, and that’s the problem.”
Brady and Pouncey each hugged DuCally. But he wasn’t satisfied.
“It’s little stuff like that,” DuCally said. “It’s like, all right, you gave me a hug. Why can’t you all take a knee when we take a knee?”
“It’s not my thing,” Brady said. Nearby, a group of protesters were imploring other police officers to take a knee. Four joined the group in kneeling, and the crowd erupted. One protester wept.
“Take a knee. Take a knee. We love you. We love you,” another protester said. “When the revolution comes, we will need you.”